Lawmakers offer bill to improve Missouri River upkeep
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WASHINGTON, April 12, 2013 - Four lawmakers introduced legislation (H.R. 1460) April 10 that aims to improve the management of the Missouri River.
Reps. Sam Graves, R-Mo., Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., and Billy Long, R-Mo., offered the bill, which would remove “fish and wildlife” from the list of authorized purposes for which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can undertake a river management project.
Currently, the Corps' Master Manual includes eight authorized purposes. By removing “fish and wildlife,” the Corps could focus more closely on projects related to navigation and flood management, the lawmakers said. “The record flooding of the Missouri River in 2011 affected hundreds of families, homes, farmers, and businesses throughout the river basin,” Graves said. “Families were displaced, homes were under water, crops destroyed, and businesses lost revenue. As a result, we must take a serious look at the management of the Missouri River and make common-sense reforms that make residents the priority. The Corps should not have to waste precious resources on building wildlife habitats, a duty they are not suited for and should not have to fulfill.”
Luetkemeyer said his district includes about 140 miles of the Missouri River and has “seen firsthand how the Corps and its limited resources are being spread too thin.”
Hartzler said agriculture and transportation should be the main priorities for the upkeep of the Missouri River.
“While preserving wildlife habitat is important, we cannot allow these narrow interests to take precedence over the lives and activities of farmers, businesses, and residents on or near the river,” Hartzler said. “The well-being of our citizens must be government's top priority.”
The Corps is responsible for the management of the Missouri River. Pursuant to the Missouri River Authorized Purposes Study, the Corps gives consideration to eight authorized purposes - flood control, navigation, water supply, water quality, hydropower, irrigation, recreation, and fish and wildlife.
In the past, environmental groups have challenged the river management procedures of the Army Corps in court to gain greater consideration for fish and wildlife.
The bill was referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
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